Tag Archives: romance

Review of Permanent Ink (Art & Soul #1), by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn

I received a copy of Permanent Ink (Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn) through Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
At twenty-three, Poe Montgomery is going nowhere. He still lives in his father’s basement and spends most of his time tagging with his friends. When an arrest lands him in debt, Poe accepts the front desk job at Permanent Ink, the tattoo shop owned by his father’s best friend, Jericho McAslan. Jericho is nearly twice Poe’s age, but with his ink and prematurely graying hair, he quickly takes the starring role in Poe’s hottest fantasies.

Jericho is known for his ability to transform poorly designed tattoos into works of art, but he was once as aimless and misdirected as Poe. Wanting to pay it forward the way someone once did for him, Jericho makes Poe his apprentice and is determined to keep things strictly professional. Easier said than done when Poe makes his interest—and his daddy kink—abundantly clear.

Jericho can’t resist Poe or their intense chemistry for long. But between the age gap, tension with Poe’s father, and Poe’s best friend calling him a sellout, they’ll need to ensure they’re both on the same page before they can rewrite their rocky start into something permanent.

Review:
Good, but it didn’t rock my world. I thought Jericho and Poe were a cute couple. But I also thought it went from sex to a relationship and love too quickly. When Jericho said, “We’re dating,” I thought, “Really, when did that happen?” I liked their little bit of kink, even if it isn’t one I particularly relate to. The sex was hot enough, if a little same-same.

The side characters, Landon and Blue were interesting. I’d be happy to read more about either of them, though I’m fairly sure the next book will be about Blue and Callum. It was a pretty obvious setup.

Also fun for me was that the book is set on my home turf, Saint Louis, and the city was fairly recognizable. Even if the ‘salty’ and ‘extra’ language that seems to be popping up in M/M books lately isn’t anything I’ve ever heard a youth actually say in The Lou.

My main complaint is that I never particularly came to like Poe. I understand that he is supposed to be a ‘brat’ to compliment Jericho, who is the ‘daddy,’ but he just basically annoyed me.

So, good enough that I will read book two, but not making my favorites list.

Review of My Fairy Godmother Is a Drag Queen, by David Clawson

I won a copy of David Clawson‘s My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen through Goodreads.

Chris Bellows is just trying to get through high school and survive being the only stepchild in the social-climbing Fontaine family, whose recently diminished fortune hasn’t dimmed their desire to mingle with Upper East Side society. Chris sometimes feels more like a maid than part of the family. But when Chris’s stepsister Kimberly begins dating golden boy J. J. Kennerly, heir to a political dynasty, everything changes. Because Chris and J. J. fall in love . . . with each other.

With the help of a new friend, Coco Chanel Jones, Chris learns to be comfortable in his own skin, let himself fall in love and be loved, and discovers that maybe he was wrong about his step-family all along. All it takes is one fairy godmother dressed as Diana Ross to change the course of his life.

My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen is a Cinderella retelling for the modern reader. The novel expertly balances issues like sexuality, family and financial troubles, and self-discovery with more lighthearted moments like how one rogue shoe can launch a secret, whirlwind romance and a chance meeting with a drag queen can spark magic and light in a once dark reality.

I

This was cute and funny, but there were several moments that made me think, “As not a member of X minority group, is it ok to laugh at this?” A feeling that might not have been so strong if all the characterizations hadn’t been quite so stereotypical. To be fair the title and purposeful riffing of Cinderella do give a clue that it is that sort of book, one that is playing with pre-existing ideas. But I don’t think it was quite deep enough to be considered a deconstruction, exploration or even parody of those same ideas. I also had trouble with some of the language around gender, women, LGBTQI+, Drag and more.

Those who can’t tolerate cheating in a book, especially cheating with a woman in their M/M, this is not the book for you. The whole thing is two gay men and their beard. I appreciate the way Clawson presented a gay man circumstantially unable to come out and that he never let Chris demand that J.J. do just that to prove his love. But as is almost always the case in such stories, I don’t think the emotional damage possible to the woman a gay couple hid behind was considered at all.

Writing is clear and easy to read, though repetitive at times, and it’s well edited. Basically it’s one of those books that I liked but found problematic.

Review of Aqua Follies, by Liv Rancourt

Author, Liv Rancourt sent me a copy of her novel Aqua Follies for review.

Description from Goodreads:
The 1950s. Postwar exuberance. Conformity. Rock and roll.

Homophobia.

Russell tells himself he’ll marry Susie because it’s the right thing to do. His summer job coaching her water ballet team will give him plenty of opportunity to give her a ring. But on the team’s trip to the annual Aqua Follies, the joyful glide of a trumpet player’s solo hits Russell like a torpedo, blowing apart his carefully constructed plans.

From the orchestra pit, Skip watches Poseidon’s younger brother stalk along the pool deck. It never hurts to smile at a man, because good things might happen. Once the last note has been played, Skip gives it a shot.

The tenuous connection forged by a simple smile leads to events that dismantle both their lives. Has the damage been done, or can they pick up the pieces together?

Review:
This is a hard on for me to review. The book is really well written, easily readable and well edited. It has two likable characters and a realistic plot and setting. However, I didn’t enjoy it personally, and that’s not the fault of the book. It’s just that, while I understand that 1950s America was a horrible time and place to be gay and there were very real reasons to be afraid of being outed, I got really tired of Russell’s back and forwards. I understood it, but I had a hard time liking him each time he treated Skip poorly because of his own insecurities. And I never could forgive Ryker (and to a lesser degree Susie), so Rancourt’s attempt to redeem them in the end totally flopped for me.

So, how do you rate a book that you can objectively say is a good book, but not a book for you? I don’t know either. But it is what it is.